So far, mainstream critics don't seem to like Watchmen all that much.
Out of a dozen reviews we surveyed online and in print, only four seemed to really like it. You could bump that number up to five if you count the guy from Wired, who seemed to love and hate it. But that could be offset by Roger Ebert, who seemed confused that he liked it.
Others, like the New York Times, left no doubt where they stood. "Interminable" is not a word film critics use when they enjoyed a film. Below are some of the more choice quotes about Watchmen—good and bad—from a sampling of the mainstream press:
"Behind the camera is a director whose love of the original comics shines through in every scene, every detail; his determination to do them justice has finally brought this story to the screen in a rich, stirring form for which even the pickiest fan should be thankful."
Kurt Loder, MTV
"I'm shocked to be writing this, given the number of screenwriters, directors and studios this adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' ground-breaking 1986 anti-superhero comic series has gone through, but Watchmen is absolutely devastating. Dense, intense, tragic and visionary, this is the kind of movie that keeps setting off bombs in your brain hours after you've seen it."
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
"I'm not sure I understood all the nuances and implications, but I am sure I had a powerful experience. It's not as entertaining as The Dark Knight, but like the Matrix films, LOTR and The Dark Knight, it's going to inspire fevered analysis. I don't want to see it twice for that reason, however, but mostly just to have the experience again."
Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun Times
"The synapse-frazzling ambition of Watchmen is impressive as it lurches from hyperreal Earth to photoreal Mars; it is dizzy, crazy and quite sexy—when it's not being self-indulgent and pointless. If it doesn't quite hang together or add up, or stick faithfully to the comic-book original, these offenses aren't major. What a spectacle."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"Sure, Watchmen is two-and-a-half hours of homage that too often lapses into camp and whose main theses are lost in gory translation, and time likely will not treat the movie as well as it has the comic. But if it brings more people to Moore and Gibbons' original, then mission accomplished."
Scott Thill, Wired
"Dr. Manhattan's existence is busy and fairly melancholy, but I do envy him his ability to perceive every moment of past and future time as a part of a continuous present. If I had that power, the 2 hours 40 minutes of Zack Snyder's grim and grisly excursion into comic-book mythology might not have felt quite so interminable."
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Clocking in at an exhausting 163 minutes even without some of the book's various subplots, the film forfeits momentum and suspense for a jerky succession of expository dialogue scenes, interspersed with occasional flashes of grotesque ultra-violence."
Tom Charity, CNN
"On the page, Watchmen was a paranoid, mind-tripping pastiche of everything from The Incredible Hulk to Naked Lunch. But when characters who are knowing throwbacks are literally brought to life on screen, they can seem more like half-hearted ripoffs."
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"Caught between the rock of fanboy adulation and the hard place of newbie indifference, the R-rated, nearly-three-hour movie version of Watchmen is a cinematic piñata getting whacked from every side. "
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"So now that there's a Watchmen movie, it's disappointing to report that there was probably never a good way to make a Watchmen movie."
Alonso Duralde, MSNBC
"Watchmen's failure hinges precisely on the fault line between a wildly proficient director—which Snyder is—and a visionary. Which he's not."
Devin Gordon, Newsweek
"... the only watch that matters in Watchmen is the one on your wrist. It's telling you life is too short for this movie."
Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post
"The book is always better."
Richard Corliss, Time